saving money in quarantine | unemployed, full time student

2020, student

Hello!

Finances are tricky, no one understands taxes and where was the guidance to be able to financial support ourselves in adult life when we were in an enforced educational environment such as school, eh? (Gosh darn that would just be far too sensible and convenient)

Figuring out finances is bloody difficult and I definitely don’t have all the answers, but here are the things I’m doing to keep myself afloat at the moment when I’m an unemployed, full time student and coronavirus has turned the graduate job market to dust quicker than Thanos could find all the Infinity Stones.

*disclaimer: I’m very fortunate to be living with my partner who works full time and currently has been furloughed and still has income to pay rent, so I’ll be looking at saving money in other aspects of life but I appreciate I’m very lucky to still be financially stable in a pandemic*

  • write down everything

It can be a bit embarrassing at first to see how much money you spend at Tescos written down on paper (or how many Amazon orders you’ve made in the last six months…) but being able to see it all on paper and have a solid figure of what you’re actually spending is a good way to figure out where you can save money.

If you commute, is there a way to get a season ticket that would be more expensive initially but save money in the long run? Is your car insurance up for renewal and you could look for a better deal on comparison sites? Do you spend too much money on coffee and really need to reevaluate your relationship with caffeine and/or bring a cup from home? Little things like that can make all the difference.

Outside of lockdown, sometimes I found giving myself a cash limit was helpful as when it was gone it was gone. I definitely think much more about clothing items I want and whether they will bring my short term gratification or if I think it’s something I will actually wear.

Being aware of what you spend, how it adds up and comparing it month to month is a good place to start.

  • no spend month!

Maybe it doesn’t need to be a month but just a week or cutting out a particular purchase like clothes or coffee. I saw online about someone doing a no spend year and her friend gave her vouchers for her birthday so she could go shopping without spending her own money which I thought was lovely.

I’m doing a no spend month this month and I’m finding in lockdown it’s much easier because the little things you pick up on the go that build up – food, drinks, parking tickets, bus tickets etc – have already wound down. It’s the online shopping that will get you.

One thing I’m doing to combat this is just putting things in my Amazon basket and then not going any further – I’ve had the satisfaction of thinking of something I want and browsing and putting it in my basket and then I know that at the beginning of next month I will review whether I actually need it (and then come to the conclusion I have no money and not buy it anyway).

  • don’t save if you can’t afford it

The word save can be confusing – what I mean is try not to put pressure on yourself to put money into savings accounts if it just means you’re going to take it out again to do a weekly food shop. In 2019 I followed a weekly saving plan where I saved an extra pound a week (so £1 in week 1, £2 in week 2 etc). This worked up until about week 40 and then I just couldn’t afford it with moving house, ending up living in a hotel and… y’know, surviving and stuff.

Although I then ended up spending all my savings on being able to move across country for my degree and my boyfriend’s new job, I saved over £1000 that year and I learnt a lot about making sure I had money to put aside, planning ahead for driving lessons and a car etc.

Financial income ebbs and flows, especially if you’re in between studying and starting a career and a time for saving will come. If you feel like you want to put £5 a week in your savings account, go ahead; if you can afford £100 a month do it; if you’re watching the 20p of interest add up every month, that’s still progress.

I’m getting married in two years, I want to buy a house and have a baby and all of that takes a lot of money and saving, but right now I’ve got to keep myself afloat – it’s all steps and whilst planning for the future is important, there’s no point doing it to detriment yourself now or you’re never going to get there.

  • repurpose stuff you already have and it’ll feel like brand new

I’m not a fan of the phrase ‘upcycling’ but that might be because my mum hates it. The principle however – I’m a big fan. Since spending so much time at home I’ve cut the legs off my dungarees to make a cute playsuit for all the nice weather we’ve had (she types as the grey clouds loom outside her window…), I’ve cut up on old duvet cover we didn’t use and I’m going to teach myself how to make face masks, I’ve rediscovered old activity books that feel like ‘new toys’ (one’s called ‘1 page at a time: a daily creative companion’ and the other one is full of creative writing activities and exercises!).

Between revamping your wardrobe, shuffling around your belongings to rediscover old things or even learning new skills (drawing, cooking, photography, gardening, yoga and so on) – there’s so many things you can do at home that you can learn for free with materials you already have.

Lockdown is so different for everyone – some have had their entire lives turned upside down, some are working harder and longer hours than they’ve ever worked before and I’m privileged enough to stay at home, crack on with my masters degree and try all the new creative hobbies.

It’s taken me a few months to settle in to looking after my money and figuring out how I’m going to make it last over the long term. My ‘no spend’ month has been really eye opening that all these things I wanted that I thought I needed are so not necessary at all.

But also I’ve racked up a £200 Amazon basket waiting for my to click ‘buy’ so… depends on your definition of successful. I haven’t clicked ‘buy’ though so I guess that’s a win!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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there IS more to life than job hunting, I promise | diary 5

2019, career

Hello!

My favourite kinds of blog posts to write are long, rambly chatty ones – the kind of thing that I would say to a friend over a coffee when I’ve gone off on one a little bit and then reaching a nice, conclusive positive note at the end.

And these last fews week have been very heavy in job applications, thinking about my career and actually working to make progress on it so I thought I’d do a little update both to document my own progress (that’s the ‘diary’ aspect of this post!) BUT ALSO I’ve been applying for career related jobs for over a year now and to be honest? It’s soul destroying – I reckon I’ve applied for over a hundred jobs at this point and getting rejection email after rejection email makes you start to think not only that you might not ever get a job, but that you don’t deserve one. HOWEVER I want to remind anyone who might be feeling like this (or is feeling nervous approaching their final university years!) that there is a positive ending and progress will happen.

Everyone’s on their own journey!

So I did a pretty detailed explanation of my last year of job hunting in my latest graduate life update but I’d say I took a pretty significant break from applying for jobs between November and January and when I came back to it in February? I felt so much better.

I had a more solid idea of what I really want, I had time to reevaluate and feel passionate about jobs again rather than just throwing my CV at any vaguely relevant job and consequently my applications have been more genuine and I’ve started to see results. Most of that is down to applying for significantly less jobs but spending much more time on them – working on a cover letter that was genuine, relevant and emphasised the most useful experience on my CV.

For example, I recently applied for a New Journalism Traineeship with ITV and I really made the most of the ‘save draft’ feature in their application process. I wrote down the questions and spend the best part of two weeks working intermittently on the questions, really paying attention to how their shows are produced and doing what I could do maximise my chances. By the time I submitted the application (admittedly, on deadline day) I was so proud of it and I was in a position where I felt like I had genuinely done my best and the rest was out of my hands.

As well as ITV, I’ve found a number of jobs recently that I got really properly excited about and that’s really what I needed – I was so much more personally ready to apply for those jobs.

What really helped was a call from my university’s career office – I’m not sure what prompted the call but the first action point from it all was to rejig my CV. He went through and gave me lots of detailed feedback which I then went through and implemented whilst also redesigning my CV. It didn’t need a new design but I thought if I was going to have to change so much of it I may as well enjoy the design element too!

And, I mean, look how cute it is!

obviously some bits I’ve had to make sure are obscured, I don’t have lines and a giant mouse pointer on my CV 😂

I spent a solid few weeks working on this between work and working on my own projects (i.e. blogging, youtube, volunteering) but I’m genuinely so pleased with the final product.

And all of the waiting, the time reevaluating and the hard work is beginning to pay off – yesterday I had a really positive job interview (I should hear back today…!), got a rejection email from the ITV application and then got an exciting email about a BBC Journalism Traineeship development which I will work on later this week! So yesterday was a very full day for job related news and it was the most positive job related day I’ve had in a very long day!

Even if it ends up that I don’t get any of the jobs, it’s all been such amazing experience and I feel so much better about it all now. I know that I do deserve a job and I’m more than capable of doing a job in the field I want to work in.

So here it is – I spent so long being so unsuccessful and it really did start to have a negative effect on me but I stepped back, took some time to do some research and figure out what I want, pave out a few options for myself and I’m just now starting to see the next stage of my journey in the distance. It’s looking good lads.

If you’re feeling lost of hopeless, I thoroughly recommend taking some time for yourself and reflecting because it might just reignite your passion. Everything will work out with hard work and perseverance.

“Everything will be okay in the end. And if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” (John Lennon)

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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Adjusting (Diary 2)

2018, lifestyle

Hello!

It’s been about a month since I did my first diary post and I feel like I’ve got more to say and document (as per) so I am going to do both of those things. It’s not so much a situational change but a mental attitude change and we all know I love a ramble so I think that’s what I’ll do today!

I guess the biggest thing is that I started learning to drive! At the beginning of September I had my first lesson and it was amazing! I enjoyed it so much I literally jumped around the kitchen because I loved driving so much. My instructor is so lovely and makes me feel really comfortable and because she’s so great, she’s incredibly booked up so I couldn’t get another lesson until the beginning of next month but I’ve booked a lesson a week until the beginning of November so I’m really focused on learning and I want to be able to drive in the next six months or so, which is exciting!

It all then snowballed quite fast – my granddad sold me his car and I can’t drive it yet but I now have a car which is quite fast considering I’ve had literally one lesson but it’s a long story and it’s situational (I’ve made a video on my YouTube channel if you’re interested in hearing all about it!). Long story short – I had a lesson, I bought a car and I passed my theory test last week so the driving journey is really kick starting and I’m so excited! I’m so surprised I’m not scared of it to be honest, I genuinely can’t wait to be able to drive.

I’d like to think that the driving development makes up for the lack of job development but there’s still a lot to say – I don’t have a job, I really lost momentum in applying because I’d applied for so many, I’d had so many rejection emails, no interviews and looking at my cover letter to tweak it for every job genuinely gave me headaches and made me want to burst into tears. It’s not even like I took a break I just couldn’t do it anymore.

But now I feel somewhat ready to start applying again – I’ve been helping my mum out by doing some jobs in the office and helping out her business so I’m learning again, working for a wage and earning some money, which is a nice feeling. I’m ready to start slowly applying for jobs again – rather than applying for seven in a day, I want to take it slower and make each application more meaningful and only apply for jobs that really make me excited rather than applying for literally everything.

I’m adjusting to life back at home – I’d always planned to move out again and have my own kind of career by about October but, to be honest, I’m quite warming to the idea of staying at home for a year and finishing learning to drive, learning about business from my mum and finding a role that really suits me.

So it’s taking time to adjust, but I think I am settling a little and I’m actually not hating it.

There’s no smooth segway between topics other than talking about how I’m completely changing the topic. So now to talk about diet and exercise!

I’ve written a couple of posts about exercise recently and I’m now not working out in the same way but I’m still working on it – as of this week, I’m focusing a lot on what I’m eating and training myself to not be as hungry and rely on food as I have been previously. I’m going to my cousin’s wedding in January and I’m using it as an incentive to lose some weight (though Christmas being between now and then is not going to work in my favour). I’m still exercising but not forcing myself to miserably walk on the treadmill three times a week – I’ve gone for going for focused walks walking at a higher pace than I’m comfortable with and I’m already noticing a positive effect on my mood in three days so I’m feeling more motivated to go back to the weights and cardio machines. I’m listening to my body a lot more and not pushing myself to do anything that doesn’t help me mentally (other than food, I’m being quite strict about that).

And I’m actually kind of enjoying it! Sure I’m hungry, but I’m planning my meals more, I’m trying new things, I’m cooking more, I had a really nice conversation with my dad about it yesterday and it was really lovely. I don’t want to diet, because I would either then spend the rest of my life on that diet or I’d yo-yo back up to where I am now and neither of those are good. I’m making sustainable changes by cutting out snacking and being aware of the kinds of food I’m eating and making certain types of food a treat.

But I would quite like to ban food adverts on TV because god it makes avoiding evening snacking really difficult. The other night, I could have eaten boxes of shortbread, a bucket of buttery pasta and at least three pizzas. But I didn’t, which is the important bit. I had grapes instead.

I think that’s enough for one diary post – my days have been pretty quiet recently, making content, working for mum, applying for jobs, nothing too exciting to report.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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